Three years ago, I ran for the position of Students’ Union president and lost. Though I still cared deeply about student issues, I was discouraged from further involvement with student politics. As a result, I spent the next few years working with the university, and provincial government. Working in the university allowed me to understand the inner workings of the institution while working in the provincial government allowed me to understand their philosophies around governance and strategy. This allowed me to become more mature and to become more aware of how politics works from the inside.
In the later half of my undergraduate degree, I decided to take a break from Edmonton to study abroad in Korea for a year. Studying in another country opened my eyes to alternate approaches to student governance. For example, the student union and the student body at the university I attended in Korea were very politically engaged. Their political influence and leverage led to a campus that saw high student engagement and activity. After returning to Edmonton, I took a semester off and booked a flight to Somalia - the country my family fled - in order to retrace my roots and to see the life my family had before the war. Returning to my home allowed me to regain that portion of my identity which was lost.
After my long hiatus, I returned to the university in order to complete my final semester. Prior to returning, I hoped that the university would have changed due to a new administration and provincial government. Unfortunately though, it did not change. Tuition is still frozen at a high amount with no sign of it being decreased. International students are having their tuition jacked up to cover a revenue shortfall. And parents are still unable to access child care without first waiting one and a half to two years.
This is all despite having, perhaps, the most student friendly government in the past 50 years.
This surprised me since I was often told that the things I proposed three years ago were unrealistic with the conservative government. However, we are still adopting that similar attitude with a government and administration that is open to change and new ideas.
This is why I chose to run.
There is a major opportunity for students to use this rare window in order to push for a more affordable education system. One where students can attend on their academic merit rather than the size of their wallet. And one where we welcome international students from diverse cultural and economic backgrounds. And one where parents do not have to choose between child care and their education.
Now, the issues I mention above may seem unrealistic or difficult to tackle alone. However, I operate on the assumption that the best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago - the second best time is now.
This platform will delve into the numerous issues we will work on if elected president.